NYC PREVIEW: Vodafone Junior Warriors v Sharks

Prop Albert Vete ... back in the starting line-up for the Vodafone Junior Warriors' NYC clash against Cronulla today. Photo: Photosport.


Like their NRL counterparts, the Vodafone Junior Warriors strive to rediscover winning touch when they face Cronulla in their third-round NYC contest at Sharks Stadium in Cronulla today (11.45am kick-off; 1.45pm NZT).


The John Ackland-coached side is in the uncommon position of losing its last four games, stretching back to the NYC finals last season when it was eliminated after losses to Canberra and the Sydney Roosters.


The Vodafone Junior Warriors opened the 2013 season with a heavy loss at Parramatta but again, like the NRL team, rebounded with a far more convincing performance against the Sydney Roosters at Eden Park last Saturday night.


They were on target for victory when they led 20-14 heading into the last six minutes only for the Roosters to snatch success with two late tries.


Defeat in such circumstances was galling but Ackland could point to an improved display across the park, not least defensively.


Even without defensive lynchpin David Bhana, the Vodafone Junior Warriors defended resolutely to stay in the contest after conceding a 0-10 lead in the opening 22 minutes. It was that defensive attitude that enabled them to steadily peg back the Roosters until they levelled up at 14-14 and then moved into a 20-14 lead before the lapses in the final stanza.


Among the changes Ackland has made for todays contest, 18-year-old first-year Vodafone Junior Warrior Tuimoala Lolohea moves into the halves to team up with the consistent Mason Lino, a fellow Maris Saints junior.


And big front rower Albert Vete returns to the starting line-up after emerging as the leading yardage player from either side at Eden Park; he carried the ball 145 metres from 15 runs.


VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS v CRONULLA SHARKS


Sharks Stadium, Cronulla

11.45am, Sunday, March 24

Referees: Grant Atkins & Chris Sutton


VODAFONE JUNIOR WARRIORS


1 VILIAMI KAVEINGA

2 NGATAUA HUKATAI

3 MICHAEL SIO

4 DAVID FUSITUA

5 VILIAMI LOLOHEA

6 MASON LINO

7 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA

8 ALBERT VETE

9 LAFU FEAGAIGA

10 SAM LISONE

11 RAYMOND FAITALA-MARINER

12 STEDMAN LEFAU

13 DAVID BHANA (c)

Interchange:

14 KEN MAUMALO

15 ABRAHAM PAPALII

16 ADAM TUIMAVAVE-GERRARD

17 VINCENT AFOA

18 JEFF SUA

23 TRENT BISHOP


HEAD COACH: JOHN ACKLAND